News from Shakes Manor

Yesterday, I was listening to Iain (aka Mr. Shakes) order a sandwich (which is always an event fraught with drama at Shakes Manor), and afterwards I commented to him how the differences in men's and women's socializations are evident in the smallest things, like a phone call to a sandwich shop.

Liss: You said, 'Gimme one of these and gimme one of those and gimme one of that other thing, too,' which is something I could never say without sounding like a bitch, even though your tone was perfectly polite.

Iain: Tootally. When it's two men, ye joost bark at each oover, because that's hoo ye get fings doone. Boot woomen are expected tae be poolite.

Liss: Uh huh. I always felt like I couldn't be as efficient in a corporate job as my male colleagues could, because if I were as curt as they were, no matter how pleasant my tone, I had to deal with attitude toward my perceived bitchiness.

Iain: Yeah, I've tootally seen that at woork. [He went into a brilliantly observed but casually reported description of the differences he's noticed in how women he's training are regarded by male clients versus how he is regarded.] Noo matter hoo good they are, woomen never seem tae get quite as mooch respect as men.

Liss: You've noticed that, eh?

From there the conversation turned to a general discussion of corporate culture and women's role within it. Iain told me he'd noticed how maternity leave is viewed unfairly and leaves women at a disadvantage, how female coworkers with the same jobs as the guys—and hence the same responsbilities—still seem to have the lion's share of child-rearing responsibilities at home, and the differences between the family lives of the male senior executives he knows (married, with kids) and female senior executives he knows (all unmarried, mostly without kids). He then observed, sort of vaguely, that women seem to "buy into the whoole coorpoorate fing less than men."

Liss: Yeah, women are generally less invested in corporate culture, but that's attributable to a systemic problem of inequality more than something intrinsic to womanhood.

Iain: I dinny fink it's intrinsic, eiver. There's definitely soomefing ye said, soomefing wroong wif the system...

Liss: If you were asked to spend your whole life training for a marathon with the caveat that the medals were reserved for white men, that you could commit your life to it but only come in fourth at best, would you do it?

Iain: Good point.

Liss: It's rather discouraging; that's why a lot of women run the race for its own sake, but don't necessarily try to win.

Iain: Woo, yeah. [He paused a moment, taking that information on board.] Good fing there are woomen who do, though, all the Shakespeare's Sisters who try tae change fings wif their wee teaspoons.

Liss: [feeling very grinny and on the verge of blubby] This from the man who once told me soon after we'd met that he'd be emasculated if a woman sent him flowers.

Iain: I dinny ken what yer oon aboot, wooman. That moost have been soome oover blooke, who isn't as enlightened as I am! Now give me a kiss, wooman.

And so I did.

[Consider this my answer to the question of how to be a good straight feminist boyfriend. 1. Pay attention. 2. Honor your girl's teaspoon. 3. Kisses.]

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